Recently, I travelled with TakeMeTour to the Death Railway in Thailand. The Death Railway is considered one of the Top 10 most dangerous railway in the world.
What is the Death Railway?
During World War 2, the Imperial Japanese army had forced more than 330,000 forced labours and allied prisoners of wars (POWs) to work on the 415 km railway between Thailand and Burma. The Death Railway started in September 1942 and was completed in October 1943, in a short span of 13 months.
Why is it called the “Death Railway”?
The railway has a few names from Burma Railway, Burma–Siam Railway, Thailand–Burma Railway and the Death Railway. The living and working conditions to build the railway were often described as “horrific”, with maltreatment, sickness, and starvation. It is estimated that out of the 330,000 forced labours, more than 106,000 died building the 415 km railway. The building of the railway has caused many deaths and it is seen as a war crime committed by Japan in Asia.
How my trip to Death Railway begins?
My journey starts at Thonburi Station which is frequent by the locals on weekdays, while on weekends, there are specific trains from the Hualamphong station for tourists. Thonburi Station is about 30 mins away from my hotel which is located at Pratunam Area. I was supposed to meet my local tour guide at 7.20am. Traffic is terrible in Bangkok, and I reached Thonburi Station at 7.25am instead. Thank goodness, my local tour guide from TakeMeTour has asked me to meet at the station 30 mins before the train is leaving to the Death Railway.
I was surprised to know that the Thonburi Station is vastly different from the Hualamphong station, which is the main railway station in Bangkok. After reaching Thonburi Station, I met my local tour guide ON and her friend Kate. I was relieved to know that the train has yet to depart.
As the train would be about 4 hours, and I was feeling hungry, as I rushed all the way from my hotel to Thonburi Station without any breakfast. ON and Kate, brought me to the local market just opposite Thonburi Station to grab my breakfast.
I had sticky rice and some local bbq meat similar to Singapore’s satay. As my tour is inclusive of all tickets, transport, and food, ON and Kate paid for my food and bought bottles of mineral water for the trip.
The train is non-air conditional, the train seats are similar to your bench seats and are less crowded, with vendors selling food and drinks on the train. It is recommended to seat on the left side of the train.
I enjoyed the experience of taking the train, with the wind blowing on my face and it was nice getting to know my TakeMeTour guides.
ON shared that she is doing her Doctorate in Mathematics, while Kate is a lawyer, their impressive credential made my jaw dropped. ON shared that I am her first tourist from TakeMeTour.
ON and Kate highly recommended that I try the rice in banana leaf. I am surprised by its unassuming look, as it tastes awesome.
The craziest place along this train ride is the Wampo Viaduct, a long wooden bridge just after Tham Kra Sae Cave. This was built along the edge of the Kwai Noi river, clinging to a bare stone cliff for some 300 meters.
After reaching Nam Tok station, ON and Kate has asked me to keep my camera while they negotiated the price with the Tuk Tuk driver, I was supposed to look like a Thai-Chinese, while they speak in Thai to the driver. The Tuk Tuk is different from the one in Bangkok, it is like a minivan, and can seat up to 8 pax. We were taking the Tuk Tuk to the Sai Yok Noi waterfall.
After about 10 mins on the TukTuk, we reached the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall. We were surprised to know that as the Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi Province is facing a drought and have not been raining, there wasn’t any water at the waterfall. While talking to the guide at the national park, she had shared that this is the first time in her 10 years career that she has seen the waterfall not having any water.
I guess that was a surprise surprise, I considered myself kind of lucky to be able to see this phenomenon. After leaving the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, ON and Kate suggested that we head down to the Bridge on the River Kwai area. ON and Kate from TakeMeTour, brought me to the bus stop and we waited patiently outside Sai Yok Noi Waterfall, to take a local bus to the bridge.
The bus journey was about 1hour from the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall and about 10 mins walk to the Bridge at the River Kwai. It started raining about 10 mins after we reached the bridge, ending the drought, which prompted us to head over to the war museum to understand more about the Imperial Japanese Army and the World War II.
The bridge on the River Kwai is now a major tourist attraction and the hub of intense commercial activity. After visiting the River Kwai, On and Kate negotiated for motorbike taxis, to bring us back to the bus station to take a bus back to Bangkok, Independent Monument.
Why should you travel with locals using TakeMeTour?
#1 Get to know the locals
The trip allows me to know what the locals like to do, how is their life in Thailand, and what are the famous food that they have. I am surprised and amazed by ON and Kate, 2 wonderful ladies, shared their life and their travel experience with me.
#2 Get to experience the local transport
I had the experience to take the train on the death railway, the tuk-tuk to the waterfall, the local bus to the bridge on the river kwai, the motorbike taxi to the bus station, and the bus back to Bangkok area.
#3 Get to try the local food
If I had travelled alone, without ON and Kate, I would not have the experience to try the local food. (I am always extremely cautious about eating food, as I am worried about getting food poisoning while travelling)
Check out the tour package that I was on at TakeMeTour, it cost 1650 THB per person and it is inclusive of transportation fares, meals, and admission fees are included.
ON & Kate, Thanks for being such awesome guide. Thanks for sharing your life, your experience, your country with me. It was definitely an awesome way for me to see Thailand. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Disclaimer: Thank you, Take Me Tour for inviting me on a day tour. As always, all opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.